Have they just re­leased the finest de­but al­bum of 2018?

Classic Rock - - Contents - dave ev­er­ley

New al­bums from The Struts, Whites­nake, Ace Frehley, Black­berry Smoke, Nashville Pussy, Opeth, David Crosby, Pink Fairies, Crip­pled Black Phoenix… Reis­sues from Me­tal­lica, Sta­tus Quo, Small Faces, Be-Bop Deluxe, The Bea­tles, Hel­loween, Lyn­d­sey Buck­ing­ham, Soulfly… DVDs, films and books on Queen, Jethro Tull, Roger Daltrey, Steve Lukather, Ian Hunter, New Order… Live re­views of Ghost, Europe, Garbage, L.A. Guns, King King, David Crosby…

The song re­mains the same? Yes… and no.

Let’s get it out of the way up­front: yes, this de­but al­bum from this much­hyped Michigan band sails close to Led Zep­pelin. Not quite so close as to have Jimmy Page call­ing his lawyers, but close enough to prompt any­one who has heard them to gaze wist­fully into the mid­dle dis­tance and think of vel­vet loon pants, 50-minute drum so­los and pri­vate planes kept air­borne on clouds of co­caine. Greta Van Fleet them­selves may plead ju­ve­nile ig­no­rance and pull all the in­no­cent, “Who? Us?” faces they want, but the fact is that the fu­ture of rock’n’roll sounds a lot like its past.

On the ev­i­dence of this al­bum, that’s not such a bad thing. It might be sad­dled with the worst ti­tle in liv­ing mem­ory, but An­them Of The Peace­ful Army re­ally is one of the most ex­cit­ing records re­leased by a new band in re­cent years. This is partly a re­sult of the amount of money and at­ten­tion that’s be­ing thrown at them – this is the first time in years that a rock band has been given a gen­uine fighting chance by a ma­jor la­bel – but it’s mostly down to the youth­ful, un­man­u­fac­turable ex­hil­a­ra­tion that cour­ses through its 10 tracks.

The same naiveté that al­lows Greta

Van Fleet to echo the big­gest of the big beasts of the 70s with­out blush­ing also al­lows them to prop­erly rock out with­out fear of ridicule. Moun­tains Of

The Sun kicks in with some free­wheel­ing bot­tle­neck gui­tar and doesn’t let up for four and a half min­utes, while the heroic Cold Wind could have been plucked from one of those Best Of The Old Grey Whis­tle Test pro­grammes that you find on BBC4 on Fri­day nights.

But Greta Van Fleet know how to con­jure an at­mos­phere, too. Al­bum opener Age Of Man, with its evo­ca­tions of ‘won­der­lands of ice and snow’, bil­lows and floats be­fore erupt­ing into a blind­ing sun­burst cho­rus. It’s as fa­mil­iar as a bat­tered old vinyl copy of Houses Of The Holy, but weirdly mod­ern too. An es­tate agent would call it ‘time­less’.

An­them Of The Peace­ful Army isn’t quite the fin­ished ar­ti­cle. Josh Kiszka’s Plan­ta­like vo­cals hit the high reg­is­ter from the start and stay right up there through­out; more than once you find your­self winc­ing and mut­ter­ing: “Turn it down, sun­shine.” And the clos­ing ti­tle track lays on the cloy­ing, hip­pie-dippy sen­ti­ment so thickly that you can’t help think­ing that per­haps Al­ta­mont wasn’t such a bad thing af­ter all.

At the fi­nal count, An­them Of The Peace­ful Army is shap­ing up to be the finest de­but al­bum of both 2018 and 1972.

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